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Nerve

Technology plays an increasingly important part of our lives. Everywhere we turn some computer device shows us what to do with people using them for fame and fortune. ‘Nerve’ explores these elements in a cool, urbane thriller. Those perplexed at how much technology now rules everyday life will probably be even further confused at what ‘Nerve’ shows. It serves as an effective warning to rely on your wits rather than the cables running the machines we seemingly can no longer live without.

Vee (Emma Roberts) is a school student living a somewhat sheltered existence. Urged on by her friend Sydney (Emily Meade), Vee downloads a secret game app called Nerve. Based on the ‘Truth or Dare’ idea, it allows choice between being either be a player or watcher. Choosing to be a player, Vee has to perform dares for money, with each new task increasing the risks. Another player, Ian (Dave Franco) joins her with the partnership quickly tested by sinister watchers placing them in peril.

‘Nerve’ is a nifty little film making the most out of its limited budget. Set during one night, it follows two people attempting to unburden their inhibitions. Their actions mirror those of many ‘keyboard or app warriors’ who are unafraid in expressing their on-line opinions. How the watchers dictate Vee’s and Ian’s moves is part of the fun of the screenplay’s twisty narrative. Each dare is new, giving scenes a constant freshness and added dangerous spice.

Roberts and Franco convey great chemistry as the duo playing a most dangerous game. Their interaction is crucial in making ‘Nerve’ consistently watchable and believable. Whilst some situations seem far-fetched, their performances bring the empathy they need. With the short run-time, the plot glides briskly with little CGI work and cool soundtrack rounding out the enjoyable viewing.

‘Nerve’ delivers no more or less than it promises with a consistency across all areas. Viewers may be even more wary about technology after seeing it. But it shouldn’t put you off seeing this breezy thriller sure to distract from the latest technological marvel.

Rating out of 10: 6

Blood Father

Many column inches have been given to actor Mel Gibson’s personal exploits. His actions have seen him go from being a cinematic hero to Hollywood pariah with work swiftly fading. Over the last decade, he has occasionally dipped his thespian oar in the water with mixed results. Whatever one thinks about the man, the actor still has what it takes to deliver a strong performance. ‘Blood Father’ proves Gibson the performer still has some mileage left with this magnetic role making use of his emotional diversity.

John Link (Mel Gibson) is an ex-con trying to go on the straight and narrow. A recovering alcoholic, his wife left him and his daughter Lydia (Erin Moriarty) vanished. Suddenly Lydia re-enters his life, bringing destruction in her wake. On the run from deadly drug dealers, she pleads with him to help. Reluctantly taking up arms, Link’s grizzled demeanour aims its steady gaze at all those daring to bring thunderous fire to his wayward existence.

Using a father/daughter bonding motif as its base, ‘Blood Father’ becomes a story about redemption. The duo’s self-esteem is in pieces initially, with their pairing giving them a focus they desperately lack. John, in particular, is a lost soul searching for new horizons with a percolating rage ready to explode. Gibson and Moriarty bring intense believability to their roles providing an authenticity to the often savage story.

Making ‘Blood Father’ stand-out is the cinematography which successfully conjures the vast expanses in which the characters live. The wide-open spaces mask the enclosed feelings of inertia the characters feel with only their changing attitudes able to set them free. The action sequences and direction are stylishly handled with the short run-time mirroring the quick brutality the characters face. The sense of urgency in which to escape their predicament is keenly felt as the drama and action is effectively combined.

Mel Gibson may have committed many unpardonable sins but ‘Blood Father’ isn’t one of them. A tight, edgy thriller utilising his skills with his character’s path to enlightenment perhaps one Gibson needs to endure in order to see him return to cinematic glory.

Rating out of 10: 7